There were handshakes, high fives, kisses and hugs all around as FX had a big night at the 32nd annual TCA Awards with wins in four of the 10 categories in a ceremony hosted by Jaime Camil at the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom Saturday night, Aug. 6.
The first award of the evening, for individual achievement in drama, went to Sarah Paulson, who memorably played prosecutor Marcia Clark in FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
“The fact that there is no gender distinction in this category is really refreshing,” said Paulson, whose competitors included Rami Malek, Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, Keri Russell and “O.J.” castmate Courtney B. Vance. “It was the greatest job I’ve ever had and an enormous responsibility playing a real person. [Executive producer] Ryan Murphy has been my mentor and my friend.”
Rachel Bloom of the CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” took home the statuette for individual achievement in comedy and brandished some of her her trademark humor in her acceptance speech.
“Every single word that you write about our show keeps us on the air,” said Bloom, who added that if the critics turned on her and the show, she would kill herself, alluding to the character’s struggle with depression.
It was no surprise that USA’s “Mr. Robot” was awarded outstanding new program over the other entries, as the show has been on a big awards roll since it premiered last year, picking up Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and Emmy nominations in the upcoming cycle.
Creator Sam Esmail thanked the cast, including Rami Malek, in a short but sweet acceptance speech.
“Making a Murderer” (Netflix) won outstanding achievement in reality programming, topping a field that included “I Am Cait,” “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth,” “The Great British Baking Show,” “Masterchef Junior” and “Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance.”
When it came time to accept the award for outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials, Paulson returned to the stage with the creators and other cast members of “O.J.”
“We hoped it would connect with people and today’s audiences with the themes of gender discrimination, celebrity culture, the 24-hour news cycle and particularly systemic racism,” said Scott Alexander, who created the show with Larry Karaszewski. “”This is the 1927 Yankees of acting troupes,” he said about the cast.
“We accept this honor in memory of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown,” said Karaszewski, reminding people of the real victims of the Trial of the Century.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson” was also crowned with the big kahuna, program of the year, by the television critics.
“The Americans,” FX’s spy drama starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, took the TCA for outstanding achievement in drama over a field that included “Better Call Saul,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Leftovers,” “Mr. Robot” and “UnREAL.”
“Black-ish,” ABC’s multigenerational family laffer, was awarded the statue for outstanding achievement in comedy. “So a white guy gets to accept the award for a black show — this shows how far we’ve come,” said co-executive producer Jonathan Groff, who noted that creator Kenya Barris was busy with his own family activities and could not attend the awards ceremony.
The Television Critics Association also hands out the Heritage Award, which went to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and was accepted by producer Alan Burns and co-star Valerie Harper, who famously played Rhoda. She read a letter from Moore, who was on the East Coast and couldn’t attend, which credited the genius of Burns and (James L.) Jim Brooks: “The show committed to going for the truth with the humor and heart of daily life that’s lived better with friends — that’s the greatest lesson from it.”
Jane Fonda made a surprise appearance to present the TCA Lifetime Achievement Award to Lily Tomlin, who will also be lauded with a similar honor by the Screen Actors Guild in January 2017. The two acting icons co-star in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.”
Fonda spoke of Tomlin’s kindness, sympathy and generosity and her incredible work ethic. “Sometimes I wish she would phone it in, like I do, but that never happens,” Fonda said about the actress, whose career spans more than 50 years and includes numerous awards, including seven Emmys.
To a lengthy standing ovation, Tomlin took the stage and immediately launched into a funny yet painful story about how a theater critic had insulted her looks multiple times in print until she finally confronted him face-to-face in a New York City restaurant. “You TV critics are much kinder,” she said.
Here is the complete list of winners:
Individual Achievement in Drama: Sarah Paulson (AMERICAN CRIME STORY: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON, FX)
Individual Achievement in Comedy: Rachel Bloom (CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, The CW)
Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE (TBS)
Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: MAKING A MURDERER (Netflix)
Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD (PBS)
Outstanding New Program: MR. ROBOT (USA)
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: AMERICAN CRIME STORY: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON (FX)
Outstanding Achievement in Drama: THE AMERICANS (FX) — second consecutive year
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: BLACK-ISH (ABC)
Career Achievement Award: Lily Tomlin
Heritage Award: THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (CBS)
Program of the Year: AMERICAN CRIME STORY: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON (FX)